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Michael D. Smiles

NESC Chief Engineer at SSC

Mr. Michael D. Smiles is the NESC Chief Engineer at Stennis Space Center (SSC).  Mr. Smiles joined the NESC from SSC, where he served as the Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA) Manager.  He has over 23 years of management and technical experience with NASA at SSC and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), plus 10 years of management experience with private industry.  He also served as the post-Columbia Return-to-Flight S&MA Lead on the Space Shuttle External Tank Project.

Prior to joining NASA, Mr. Smiles spent 10 years as a manager in private industry at U.S. Steel Corp in Birmingham, Alabama and at Bekaert Steel Wire Corp in Rome, Georgia.  Mr. Smiles began his NASA career in 1985 as a Quality Engineer stationed at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, Louisiana.  In 1986, he transferred to MSFC where he progressed in the S&MA organization as a Quality Engineer, Quality Engineering Branch Chief, External Tank S&MA Manager, and MSFC’s Space Shuttle S&MA Manager.  While at MSFC, he served as the Center’s quality assurance representative on numerous Agency-led S&MA investigations and special teams.  He also served as a Quality Engineer on the Redesigned Solid Rocket Motor Project after the Space Shuttle Challenger accident.

Mr. Smiles was named Manager of the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at SSC in 2000.  His responsibilities included enhancing the safety and quality of SSC programs and missions, performing oversight and assessment of propulsion test projects/operations and facility construction/modification activities, advising management on significant safety issues and overseeing prompt investigation of mishaps, managing the Center’s Institutional Safety Program and related support to resident agencies and supporting NASA Headquarters in evaluation of Space Shuttle Program and International Space Station Flight and Mission Readiness Reviews.

After the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, Mr. Smiles was detailed for 2 years as the S&MA Team Lead for External Tank Return-To-Flight efforts at MAF, reporting directly to the Associate Administrator, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance.  vHe also chaired a Mishap Investigation Board at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at the request of the KSC Director and the NASA Chief of Safety and Mission Assurance in 2006.

He has received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal, the Award for Flight Safety Awareness, and the Space Flight Awareness Leadership Award.  Mr. Smiles graduated in 1974 from the University of Alabama with a BS in Mechanical Engineering.